We have all played Wall Ball before, but I doubt many of you have at an airport. Clay Valenti and Tommy Johnson do just that at L A X Airport of all places. How fitting. This spot features Tommy Johnson showing off his wall ball skills at LAX airport. The spot was produced and directed by Clay Valenti. Both Tommy and Clay played college ball back in the day. Tommy also is an artist whose specialty is painting lacrosse imagery on canvas (laxartist.com). He has been featured on LPG numerous times and has been commissioned to paint images of Duke and the Tewaaraton Indian, plus many others.
Creatively overall, the spot was Tommy’s idea. Los Angeles airport has three main streets that approach it, with each street having large L, A, and X metal letters on the side as you come into the airport. Tommy always thought it was the ultimate wall ball and venue to promote himself as an artist. He had been bugging Clay to film him throwing against the wall, but Clay never had the desire until he figured out Radiohead’s song “National Anthem” was the music he was looking for to make the video pop.
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Clay fills LPG in on setting up the vid and how it all went down.
How many cameras did you use for the shoot?
I brought two cameras with me for the shoot. We chose the second largest set of letters, on the south end of Sepulveda Blvd. Century Blvd’s. main entrance has 30’ tall letters, but TSA police set up a vehicle spot check right next to the letters that day. I put one camera on some sticks and I hand-held the other camera. I figured it would be no more than five minutes until security would show up.
Did you encounter any dificulities with security?
We were into our twelfth minute of filming when two gentlemen in black slacks, white shirts, ties and 9mm’s on their hip drove up in a unmarked Crown Vic. The main guy walked up to us and began to read us the terrorist act. I could see he was trying to take it all very seriously, but he knew he was dealing with just a couple knuckleheads.
Seems like this could have escalated in to a serious situation. How’d you get out of it?
He got on his walkie and called off LA police (which was good because they would have locked us up). We played it like we were just two dumb jocks. Luckily the guy turned out to be pretty cool about the whole thing seeing that Tommy had no ID on him and I showed the guy a drivers license from Montana. It was also probably good that Tommy had just gotten down from standing up on the letters.
Sounds like a cool experience. Any suggestions for the other lax-dare-devils out there?
Sometimes to get the shot you have to take chances, but I suggest not trying this at your local airport.